I still can't get over how much I love the title you ended up going with. And the line you chose for the summary, perfect!
Alli! Your first story! Eeek! I'm so excited for you.
So many things really stood out at me in this story. One of them is that you managed to include a few different sort of time frames without it feeling choppy. I've read dreams written really poorly, mainly the part where it's time for the reader to 'wake' their character up. The style you used, the way you took it piece by piece to bring us back to the real world, was excellent. You took away the first thing you gave us in the story: the trees. You used them for your tool from the start to set our scene and draw us in, then when it was time to bring us back, you started blurring those. Then you took them completely away, and you ripped him from his mad dash for life and put him into an entirely new struggle for survival. One that is much more terrifying than being chased through the woods.
I loved that way that, just as he was beginning to lose the vivid mental creation his dream has made, you give him another vivid thing to dwell on, only this was so much worse. Actually telling us that the dementors were looming closer, showing us close in on them, was another really great choice because it gave the memory a smooth entrance. We know what he's reliving isn't happening this very second, but that doesn't make it any easier.
I loved, loved LOVED the way you compared Sirius's curse cracking through the tree to the way he felt, splitting open from the center. I think it would be really hard for a man like Sirius to deal with these kind of emotions. It isn't something he can walk away from, or something he can fix. But he tries, and the fact that he later in this story regrets that decision in this story was really powerful. Him trying to murder a man isn't right, but at the same time, how can you really blame him? I love that he fights for Harry, though. And again, Harry ends up being something he regrets most about his decision to go after Peter.
I'm so happy that you gave us that little fleck of hope through the smoke rising from the tower. I can't imagine what it would be like to feel the same torture, see the same walls, breath the same air day after day. But you did such a great job describing what those feelings, and making me just want to reach out and save Sirius from all the different hells he endures.
This was such a powerful one shot, Alli! I'm so happy you decided to post this. I can't wait to see what you come up with next!
Author's Response: Hi Jami!
I am SO happy with the title as well. I really think it fits the concept of the story perfectly, and I just couldn't resist sneaking a little piece of my Fitzgerald love in there. The choppiness of the time frames was something I was really worried about so I'm glad you thought the transitions went smoothly.
I'm glad you liked the dementor part of the story. The dementors are a huge part of life in Azkaban so I really felt it was important to feature them somewhere in the story. As Sirius is dealing with all of the emotions after finding his friends dead, I knew he would be a mix of angry and heartbroken. That mix of feelings is really where the cracking of the tree and splitting of his heart came from. When you experience something so traumatic like that you really need to release the pain, and Sirius sending the curse into the tree was the perfect way for him to do that.
I'm so happy you liked the rising smoke throughout the story. I've had that idea sitting in my head for a while now, and I was incredibly happy to feature it in this story. Thank you so much for your lovely review and for helping beta this story!